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Improving farmers’ access to agricultural information in East Africa

FAO / Kenya - The design, development, maintenance and hosting of a web-based knowledge management portal for the Eastern Africa Farmer Field School.

SDG 15 - Life On Land

Project Detail

Background

To create an inclusive information management system among stakeholders of the Farm Field School (FFS) program, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Eastern Africa sought to establish a web-based knowledge platform for the collection, compilation, categorization, and dissemination of FFS related information. The Farmer Field School (FFS) was a project initiated by the FAO in 1989 to train rice farmers in Indonesia on integrated pest management (IPM) as part of their National IPM Programme. This project was successful in helping to control rice pests and was quickly expanded to other countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

The expansion of the FFS program broadened its scope beyond IPM to cover other types of agricultural production and incorporate socio-ecological aspects. In Africa, the FFS approach was introduced to Kenya in 1995 under the Special Programme for Food Security. Over the years, Governments and development partners in several countries in the region have developed different approaches to the FFS program.

Though the FAO website has a repository database and an information hub of the FFS program on their website, there was a need to concretize local and regional experiences through an all-inclusive information knowledge management platform. This was intended to assist all stakeholders in various tasks ranging from operational planning, implementation, and documentation for the assessment of performed fieldwork, and enhanced networking and sharing of knowledge and expertise across programmes, actors, and countries.

Solution

Considering this, the FAO Resilience team in Eastern Africa contracted the Bewsys Team to develop and establish a web-based knowledge platform for the collection, compilation, categorization, and dissemination of FFS related information. In satisfying the requirements needed to create the management platform, the technical team collated data from FFS experts and resource persons. This data formed the foundation of creating a user-friendly database repository on a regional basis. This database included detailed information to help map and track FFS facilitators.

The web-based information portal was built based on the system administration, document library, and integrated content management modules of the Bewsys Regulatory MIS. The system was designed to feature ongoing ad-hoc networking and sharing of knowledge and expertise across programmes, actors, and countries through virtual discussion forums on the platform.

A mobile-friendly version of the web-based information portal was considered in the design process. Updating of content by designated users and search engine optimization to identify documents easily were also considered. A user management system was featured to manage all user account types and enable a user forum for surveys, online discussion groups, notifications, and relevant analytics.

Impact

The web-based information management system has increased the sustainability and transparency of the FFS programs. More stakeholders have been networking and sharing expertise through regional events announced on the platform. Collection and dissemination of FFS related information have been made easier. This is contributing to promoting food security programs, improving the standard of living of farmers, and protecting the environment through sustainable farming practices.

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Testimonials

FAO

Working with Bewsys has been a tremendous journey. We have not reached our destination, but we are enjoying the ride. Although it was supposed to be a corporate function, at meetings, we built rapport and trust with the consultants, and at the same time, they enhanced efficiency and collaboration.

World Cocoa Foundation (WCF)

Bewsys sure knows what it’s about. I’m particularly thrilled with the use of technology to accomplish tasks and also with the packaging of deliverables.

Proforest

Great service. I will recommend any day anytime.

USAID

The Bewsys team worked professionally on our assignment and sought to deliver our needs with great patience and creativity. They are reliable, competent and I recommend them for any assignment.Bewsys sure knows what it’s about. I’m particularly thrilled with the use of technology to accomplish tasks and also with the packaging of deliverables.

Chemonics

Very professional in their work, and client communication. I was really impressed with their ability to meet all their deliverable schedules, and above all submit a comprehensive user manual. Will recommend them to other projects.

UNDP Phillipines

Bewsys has been able to deliver what was expected based on the agreed timelines. The inception mission in the Philippines has been successful, and discussions with various stakeholders have been fruitful. Bewsys showed eagerness to know more about the unique requirements of the portal upon hearing it from firsthand users. They were able to accommodate various questions, comments, suggestions, and recommendations with different stakeholders, mostly from the government side, with each agency with unique requirements.

International Organisation for Migration (IOM)

Bewsys staff are results-oriented and adapted a lot of tasks, and were flexible to ensure the solution they provided was the best. A feather in their cap!

Association of African Universities

There is a great need for digital systems development in Africa. I think it will be essential to continue supporting institutions such as Bewsys so they can do these jobs better. Also, we need to think about solutions that can be deployed quickly to support other institutions where there is a match in need.